Civil engineering has played a vital role in human development. It has also enhanced the quality of live of people today, through the provision of basic water supply, pollution control, transportation, industrial/commercial, urban infrastructure. Each of these engineering work has made life more comfortable, convenient, accessible, healthy and longer not only for the local population (Nigerians), but for all. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering ( 2007a).
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A Nigerian civil engineering company, which was a subsidiary of Bilfinger Berger AG, called Julius Berger Nigeria Limited was incorporated in 1970. The company became listed in the Nigerian stock exchange as Julius Berger Nigeria PLc, to carry out complex and diverse engineering projects in Nigeria. One of which is the Eko bridge constructed in 1965. Others include Buildings, offices, residential facilities, functional buildings, sports/recreational facilities, construction of roads, bridges, railways, airports, dams and water supply, plants and factories. Julius- Berger( 2010). The company has modernised much of the transportation infrastructure in Nigeria since 1970 and is responsible for the design and construction of the new Nigerian capital at Abuja. ide-Jetro ( 2010).
It must be emphasised that the same infrastructure developed in the country, and the economies and standard of living these enormous facilities support, is contributing to environmental degradation due to the size and scale of its effects on the environment. There are clear and unambiguous signs that show that the human population is now impacting negatively to the global environment, thus threatening our life support systems .The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007b).
SUSTAINABILITY AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (JULIUS BERGER NIGERIA PLC)
In defining sustainability from the perspective of Julius Berger Nigeria PLc. it is pertinent to understand that it is not as easy as the text book definition of sustainability which lays emphasis on the future. A sustainable society is defined “to be aware of the needs of future generations and is farseeing enough”. New Civil Engineering (2010a). However, according to them, in the real world most societies are not run that way. This is because politicians are more interested in how a project performs during their tenure in office than the whole life cycle of the project. This is the reason why projects fail to be sustainable. The only reason why a newly constructed bridge collapsed in India just before the commencement of the 2010 commonwealth games, or why the water system stopped working and needs urgent maintenance. According to New Civil Engineering (2010b) that cited a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers 2 (ASCE), twenty seven percent of six hundred thousand bridges in the US are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. This is the case also in Nigeria. Where there are so many unsustainable projects. “Nigerian cities are witnessing high rates of environmental deterioration and are rated among urban areas with the lowest livibility index in the world” Adedeji and Eziyi ( 2010a).The fact is that “these old systems are subjected to the end of their life time and there are some responsibilities about the maintenance of these infrastructures”. New Civil Engineering (2010c). The obvious problem is that government still insists on taking the old fashioned path, of assigning absolutely unsustainable projects for the mere fact that they are less pricey options. Sustainable development should be one that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”. The Bruntland Report (WCED) (1987). This is the general definition of the concept. The harsh reality is that “Nigerian cities are hugely under developed and unsustainable. This is inspire of the fact that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is the biggest construction company in the country. Majority of the problem can be traced to a number of factors. These include the colonial antecedent of most Nigerian cities (Ogbazi, 1992 ; Ikya, 1993) the high rate of urbanization, bad psychological orientation of urban residents on the environment as well as poor environmental management practices (Meale, 1991; Agukoronye, 2004).
Sustainability is “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems” IUCN; WWF and UNEP (1991). These generally accepted definitions are recognised also at Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, where management and in fact all the stakeholders are aware of the new concepts on sustainability which according to The Canadian Society for civil engineering ( 2007c)includes the newly emergent issues of climate change, peak oil, sustainable transportation, environmental restoration, ecosystem disruption, ethics and equity and infrastructural operations and maintenance, as it concerns the construction industry. However in practice, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc has not done so much to implement sustainability. For sustainability to be implemented in the Nigerian built environment, there has to be four distinguished management levels of which the environmental sustainability of the built environment can be influenced. These are the environmental cooperation routines, environmental technology policies, environmental regulations and incentives. Bossink, (ed) (2010). Sustainability at Julius Berger should simply consider the whole life cycle assessment (LSA) of the alternatives when building a project. New Civil Engineering (2010d). In other words the company should first consider the whole life cycle of the product before construction starts. This will have the least effect on the environment and biodiversity as well as the capitals that have been eluded earlier.
Practically according to New Civil Engineering (2010e), “this entails a detailed study of the stages of making, using and disposing of the product before choosing on an option. The stages of the product which starts from extraction of the raw materials needed for the project to the design of the project, the formulation, specification, processing, manufacturing, assembly, construction, packaging, use, maintenance, refurbishment, reusing, recycling and finally disposal”. What obtains at Julius Berger today is that after the project has been critically analysed and studied to ascertain the cost, in terms of its profitability and affordability. The company would then decide on the source of capital for the project. Then after wards the project is assigned to workers for construction.
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc concept of sustainability is improving the quality of projects for future generations of Nigerians.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN NIGERIA AND THE ROLE JULIUS BERGER SHOULD PLAY IN NIGERIA (On Sustainability)
The Nigerian environmental problem has been identified to have serious adverse socio – economic and ecological implications .These are traceable to factors like high rate of urbanization, poor environmental management etc (Rashid, 1982; NEST, 1991; World Bank, 1992; Anih, 2004). This means that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is faced with an enormous problem caused by a rapidly growing population. According to Adedeji and Eziyi (2010b), rural – urban migration remains one of the major contributors to the ever increasing urban population growth in Nigeria. Also in Nigeria, Mba et al (eds) (2004) identified several other types of environmental problems which were classified as ecological, poaching, loss of habitat, increasing desertification and soil erosion. These were further subdivided into pollution, deforestation, global warming and slum development. The coastal regions currently experiencing widespread contamination from petroleum exploration, gas flaring and oil spillage. In this regard, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc should realise that infrastructural development can no longer be done in a microcosm on a project level – a more holistic inclusion of the complex interactions of human society and the environment upon which it depends, is needed. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007d).
JULIUS BERGER NIGERIA PLC AND SUSTAINABILITY
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, should instil the concept of sustainability which is a concept that includes the triple bottom line and a life cycle assessment into the planning, design and operation of civil infrastructure, and in this way promote the development of new technologies and management practices for the use of energy, non – renewable resources, and the production of waste materials The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007e).
There are several sustainable development issues that affect Civil Engineering practices that should be understood and implemented by Julius Berger, Nigeria Plc to mitigate their ecological impact. These include climate change. The potential impact of climate change upon the built environment (civil infrastructure) changes in extreme hydrological and meteorological events, and there should be a growing effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as adaptation requirements. Already the effect of climate change can be felt in Nigeria “Where environmental problems due to oil exploration has inflicted tremendous damage on the ecosystem, health and livelihood of the people of the region” Adedeji and Eziyi, (2010c). According to the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007f) Julius Berger Nigeria Plc should adopt best practices for eco-efficiency, such as increased energy/water efficiency, the minimization of waste and resource consumption and the employment of clean technologies. Also stated by them, there should be the use of performance based standards and guidelines identifying the outcome required as opposed to a prescriptive path that must be followed to enable designers to achieve improved results.
There is also depleting oil and natural gas reserves which have severe consequences (Peak oil). The society and indeed Julius Berger Nigeria Plc must meet certain societal priorities and implement policies: these include energy conservation and efficiency, developing alternative renewable sources and strategies to reduce waste. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc should also endorse “Green Construction” – construction that achieves the beneficial objectives of engineering work with the lowest possible consumption of raw materials and energy, both during and after construction. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007g). In this regard every decision taken should aim to minimise environmental burdens of climate change, resource depletion, energy depletion, the loss of biodiversity, and human health, genetically modified products and modified environmental vectors.
On the issue of sustainable transportation, Julius Berger should introduce the use of pedestrian amenities, mass transit, and energy conservation in transportation systems. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007h).
Effort should also be made by the company to sensitise government about the need for environmental restoration. This entails reconstruction of natural features, and fish habitat in rivers and streams, the control of sediment runoff and the removal of dams and tidal barriers. There should also be cleanup and/or redevelopment of contaminated sites. According to (Adedeji and Eziyi, (2010d). “A typical example of this can be seen in the issue of end of gas flaring and oil spillages in the Niger Delta region”.
An area of equal importance to the populace which can eventually bring to an end the restiveness of the youth especially at the Niger delta area is transparency and equity in the provision of basic human services to disadvantaged people, contributing to poverty alleviation, human health and public welfare. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc can contribute to this by implementing its corporate responsibility to communities. However, so far corporate social responsibility does not play an important role in Nigeria, and has not been the subject of a wider public discussion. Bertelsmann. (2009). Application of sustainable energy sources to develop linearly distributed social infrastructure is a key enabling factor that will stimulate grass root economic development, stem the prevailing state of crime, access sufficient quantities of clean water, maintain acceptable standards of food and goods production, sanitation and health of the citizens of Nigeria Udoma and Arciszewski (2010).Infrastructure operations and maintenance is also vital to guarantee an optimal use of the infrastructure.
RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Sustainable risks /opportunities identification: sustainable risks identified at Julius Berger Nigeria Plc include:
Cost related risks:
Tight project schedule, design variations, variations by the client, unsuitable construction programme planning, occurrence of dispute, price inflation of construction materials, excessive approval procedures in administrative government departments, incomplete approval and other documents, incomplete or inaccurate cost estimate and inadequate programme schedule.
Time related risks:
Tight project schedule, design variations, excessive approval procedures in administrative government departments, variations by the client, incomplete approval and other documents, unsuitable construction programme planning, inadequate programme scheduling, bureaucracy of government, high performance or quality expectation, variations of construction programmes
Quality related risks:
Tight project schedule, inadequate programme scheduling, unsuitable construction programme planning, incomplete or inaccurate cost estimate, low management competency of subcontractors, high performance or quality expectations, variations of construction programmes, unavailability of sufficient amount of skilled labour, design variations and the lack of coordination between project participants.
Environment related risks:
Tight project schedule, variations of construction programmes, unavailability of sufficient professionals and managers, excessive approval procedures in administrative government departments, variations by the client, inadequate or insufficient site information(soil test and survey report), low management competency of subcontractors, high performance or quality expectations, inadequate programme scheduling and serious noise pollution caused by construction
Safety related risks:
Tight project schedule, low management competency of subcontractors, unsuitable construction programme planning, variations of construction programmes, general safety accident occurrence ,high performance or quality expectations, design variations, lack of coordination between projects participants, excessive approval procedures in administrative government departments, unavailability of sufficient amount of skilled labour and unavailability of sufficient professionals and managers.
Sustainable Risks and Opportunities , Adopted from: Zou, P. et al (2010): identifying key risks in construction projects: Life cycle and stake holder perspective.
SUSTAINABILITY – RISKS OF JULIUS BERGER NIGERIA PLC
The identifiable risks of Julius Berge Nigeria Plc are socioeconomic factors which include environmental protection, public safety regulations, economic instability, and exchange rate fluctuations. Other risks are organisational relationships which deal with contractual relations, attitudes of participants, and communication. There are also technological problems experienced by the company. These include design assumptions, site condition, construction procedures, and construction occupational safety. Civil Engineering Blog (2010a)
Environmental Protection contributes to our company’s uncertainty. This stems from the company’s inability to know what will be required and the time it will take to get approval from the environmental agency of Nigeria. Requirements associated with continued re evaluation of problems and the lack of definitive criteria which are practical have also resulted in added cost. Civil Engineering Blog (2010b). According to them, economic conditions have added to the uncertainty that our company experiences. High inflation and high interest rates, the deregulation of financial institutions have created problems associated with the financing of construction.
The stakeholders of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc (share holders and management) are interested in achieving some financial break through that will help lower the cost of projects and eliminate lengthy delays.
The risks related to organisational relationships also affect the company. Strained relationship sometimes occurs between the various organisations involved in the design/construction process. According to Civil Engineering Blog (2010c), when problems occur discussions often centre on responsibilities rather than project needs at a time when the focus should be on solving the problem.
The risks associated with technological advancement also affect Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. Some new technologies pose problems to designers and constructors. Many design assumptions which have served the professions well in the past may become obsolete in dealing in dealing with new types of facilities which may have greater complexity or scale or both. Civil Engineering Blog ( 2010d).
SUSTAINABILITY – OPPORTUNITIES OF JULIUS BERGER NIGERIA PLC
Sustainability opportunities of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc include the follows:
Investment in human capital, investment in new technologies, corporate social responsibility and carbon footprint.
AUDIT TO IDENTIFY AN ACTIVITY (CONSTRUCTION OF A STORM WATER PROJECT) THAT ADHERES PARTIALLY TO THE PRINCIPLE OF SUSTAINABILITY.
In conducting the audit, the following steps were taken:
Identify every activity on construction
Identify the actual activities that are not sustainable
Identify the number of activities that are Partially sustainable
Identify the number of completely sustainable activities; check if construction was based on best practices for eco – efficiency.
Identify the environmental impact of activities during construction
Calculate the current cost of the sustainable construction
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc construction activities cannot be considered as “Green Construction” which was defined as construction that achieves the beneficial objectives of engineering work with the lowest possible consumption of raw materials and energy, both during and after construction. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering ( 2007h). An audit conducted to identify whether the company’s storm water project adheres only partially or completely to the principles of sustainability revealed that the company’s decisions on construction work were partially aimed at minimizing environmental burdens under five global consequences: resource depletion, energy depletion, climate change, biodiversity, and human health. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007i). Best practices for eco-efficiency, such as increased energy/water efficiency, the minimization of waste and resource consumption, the employment of “clean” technologies were not employed. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007j).
SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT TOOL
Sustainability management tools that can be used to develop a sustainable solution to the storm water project include an EIA, ISO 14001 and GRI.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): There are two assessment processes introduced under 2006 EIA regulations. These include;
Basic Assessment: This involves a simpler and faster process of which the public participation process and development of the basic assessment report take place before the submission of an application. Jones (2010).
ISO 14001: The international organization for standardization 14001 was published in 1996. It is the most well known and widely used specification standard on environmental management systems. Starkey and Welford (eds) (2005). ISO 14001 are also a series of voluntary, auditable standards that are designed to provide a reasonable assurance of the accuracy of the performance claims of companies. Weybrecht (2010a).
GRI: The Global Reporting Initiative (GTI) is for disclosure on economic, environmental, and social performance. This is as commonplace and comparable as financial reporting, and as important as a company’s success. Weybrecht (2010b).
AN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SUSTAINABILITY SOLUTION HIGHLIGHTED IN THE AUDIT
Promote the wise use of non – renewable resources, waste minimization and recycling in engineering activities and the development of alternatives to the use of non – renewable resources;
Select materials and systems with low embodied energy and easy reuse;
Promote the principles of conservation and energy efficiency;
Rigorously examine the basic functions and purposes behind a project to recognise options and alternatives that will increase sustainability;
Identify appropriate technology for sustainable development, recognizing that may mean low-tech solutions;
Choose a built form and orientation that contribute to environmental economies and future adaptability, flexibility of use and reuse;
Select construction methods that minimize the effects of construction and demolition in terms of land take, waste and pollution;
Aim to reduce natural, accidental and wilful hazards;
Consider individual and cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts (the Triple Bottom line) including long-term and indirect impacts; and
Adopt practices, policies and design goals that focus on efficiency, conservation of materials and energy, and waste minimization.
Adopted from: The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (2007k).
For construction activities at Julius Berger Nigeria Plc to be sustainable, the company should simply consider the whole life cycle assessment (LSA) of the alternatives when building a project. New Civil Engineering (2010f). In other words the company should first consider the whole life cycle of the project before construction starts. This will have the least effect on the environment and biodiversity. According to New Civil Engineering (2010g), “this includes a detailed study of the stages of making, using and disposing of the product before choosing on an option. The stages of the project which starts from extraction of the raw materials needed for the project to the design of the project, the formulation, specification, processing, manufacturing, assembly, construction, packaging, use, maintenance, refurbishment, reusing, recycling and finally disposal”. What obtains at Julius Berger is an analysis of the project to ascertain the cost, (profitability and affordability) and the best possible approach to undertake the project. However, even where every care is taken to reduce natural, accidental and wilful hazards, with emphasis on social, economic and environmental impacts, the project is undertaken using the normal unsustainable approach the company has adopted successfully over the years.
It is obvious that human societies have in the past decade or so taken a path which is clearly unsustainable. In Nigeria for instance there have been a whole lot of unsustainable activities by oil exploration and producing companies. This coupled with years of unsustainable construction and urban planning, poor environmental practices by the citizens, poor regulatory practices and a lack of compliance by multinational companies, has led to environmental problems like, oil spillages, gas flaring, erosion, soil and water contamination, acid rain etc in the oil rich country.
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Sustainability therefore has become an inevitable way forward in the face of a looming environmental catastrophe. As the years go by, fewer resources than we are now relying on in Nigeria will have to support the nearly over 150 million Nigerians that require food, water, clothing, shelter, electricity and other modern amenities of life. A growth in the population of Nigeria will put a further strain on available resources. This is where sustainability in the built environment becomes very necessary.
A construction company like Julius Berger Nigeria plc can use this opportunity and offer sustainable civil engineering solutions to the environmental problems that Nigeria faces today. The opportunities or benefit of sustainable construction will have on the society is, cleaner environment, resource efficiency, compliance and effective risk management etc.
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